Oilers keep draining trade pool
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini speaks to the media during the first day of NHL training camp at Rexall Place in Edmonton Sept. 17, 2011. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - One by one, Edmonton’s biggest trading cards are being pulled off the table.
A day after signing defenceman Andy Sutton to a contract, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini all but guaranteed that Ryan Smyth and Sam Gagner won’t be auctioned off, either.
And he confirmed there’s still a possibility that ongoing contract negotiations with Ales Hemsky might take him out of play, too.
“I have no plans to move Ryan Smyth,” Tambellini said in a pre-deadline state-of-the-union during Oilers practice at Millenium Place. “Ryan has made it quite clear that he wants to be here, he enjoys playing for the Oilers. I don’t have any plans to move Ryan.”
Smyth has a no-trade clause and doesn’t expect he’ll have to use it, nor would he want to. How bad would he look, after Kings GM Dean Lombardi traded him to Edmonton out of the goodness of his heart, accepting a no-win deal because Smyth pleaded to be returned home, if he packed up and moved to New York six months later?
“I’d be going against my word coming out of L.A.,” said Smyth. “I came back for a reason. I love being an Oiler.”
Gagner’s recent surge of 15 points in the last eight games when given premium ice time and linemates, solidified his position here. He’ll be a restricted free agent when his $2.275 million contract runs out this season.
“I’ve said from the outset I believe in Sam,” said Tambellini. “He’s working extremely hard and has played a lot of different roles for us over the last year or so. I was so happy for him that he found a couple of nights like that.
“You saw the potential come to reality and it was a lot of fun. I’m not looking to sell anything that hurts our future at this point. I hope Sam can be part of that.”
Hemsky could be, if he and the Oilers can come to terms between now and Feb. 27. The 28-year-old Czech isn’t ruling out unpacking his bags and staying in Edmonton.
“I’m always optimistic, trying to remain positive,” he said after practice. “We’re talking. We’ll see what kind of offer they show and I’ll go from there.”
Hemsky, who makes $4.1 million, is looking for a long-term deal, which might be tough given his injury history. But it’s an important element for him, enough to be a deal breaker.
“It’s your life,” he said. “The security you can have with a long-term deal is probably the best option you can do.
“I like it here. I’ve always liked it here. I have so many friends, I love the guys in the lockerroom, I like the coaches, I like the city, but in the end it has to make sense for me. I’d like it to make sense for both sides, but in the end, for me, it’s got to make sense.”
Even if they can get Hemsky done, it doesn’t mean Tambellini will be sleeping till noon on Feb. 27. He still has movable commodities in Cam Barker and Theo Peckham, both in the final weeks of their current contracts, in a league where depth defencemen are always in demand at the deadline.
And deadline day, as we all know, is when GM’s are their loopiest. Sometimes (Dustin Penner for Colten Teubert, a first-round pick and a second-round pick) they make you an offer you can’t refuse.
“Things change very quickly,” said Tambellini. “One team makes a move and another thinks it has to do something to stay on par. As a manager you have to be open to listening to any deal that you feel can help your organization, but I’ll say it again — at no time are we going to be selling anything that is going to hurt our future.
“If it’s something we feel will make us significantly better long term and short term, we’ll consider it, but nothing for just a short-term gain.”